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Thursday, April 5, 2012 ■ Page 7 Cyclists warned to steer clear of oil patch

By JAMES MacPHERSON Associated Press

plorers Lewis and Clark or pedal through the northern tier of the U.S. are being warned to steer clear of north- west North Dakota because of heavy oil traffi c. Missoula, Mont.-based Adventure Cycling Asso- ciation said it’s remapping the popular bike routes due to “alarming reports” about risky riding conditions through North Dakota’s booming oil patch. New maps are due in May to refl ect the change, the biggest such amendment to U.S. routes in the nonprof- it’s 39-year history, cartographer Jennifer Milyko said. Based on reports from scores of cyclists, Milyko said

roads through North Dakota’s oil patch are among the most dangerous of the group’s 40,000-mile route net- work in the U.S. “The roads are fi lled with mile after mile of big heavy

trucks that make cyclists feel very unsafe,” Milyko said. “They’re scared out of their wits.” Affected are Adventure Cycling’s Northern Tier

Route from Anacortes, Wash., to Bar Harbor, Maine, and the Lewis and Clark Trail route from Missouri to Oregon. Both itineraries through North Dakota are now rerouted up to 100 miles south, mostly along the Interstate 94 corridor. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark spent the win-

ter of 1804-05 at Fort Mandan, near present-day Wash- burn, as they explored the Louisiana Purchase at Presi-

Touring bicyclists wanting to retrace the path of ex-

dent Thomas Jefferson’s request. The explorers traveled up the Missouri River, near present-day Williston, now the hub of North Dakota’s oil patch. North Dakota Highway 1804, which skirts the Mis-

souri River and was named for the year of the explor- ers’ westward journey, is no longer part of Adventure Cycling’s mapped route. “We hated having to move away from that historical

area but safety really trumps everything,” Milyko said. One touring cyclist was killed in 2010 while travel-

ing through the oil patch region of North Dakota. The Highway Patrol said the 70-year-old Terra Haute, Ind., woman was biking east from Stanley to Minot when she was hit by a pickup. Rocky Schell, co-owner of Val’s Cycle in Minot, said his shop provides parts, tires and tune-ups to more than 150 touring cyclists each summer. Many others come in just to chat, he said. “They love our air conditioner,” Schell said. “We’re the biggest cyclery they’ve seen since the West Coast.” Remapping the routes will hurt his business and others such as cafes, stores and campgrounds in cities throughout northern North Dakota, he said. “It’s outside money they’d never see,” Schell said. Doug Hoffman and his wife, Anna, had hosted tour-

ing cyclists at their home in Williston until the couple moved a few years ago off the mapped bike route to nearby Trenton. Hoffman said he met cyclists from faraway places as they traveled through the area.

Map courtesy of Adventure Cycling Association

Adventure Cycling Association’s Northern Tier Route and its Lewis and Clark Trail route will be rerouted after “alarming reports” of risky riding conditions through North Dakota’s oil patch. New maps are coming in May.

interesting people,” he said. Cyclists weren’t complaining about traffi c four years ago but he understands why they would be now with the explosion of oil extraction in the area and the traffi c that comes with it. “It’s kind of sad but it makes sense,” Hoffman said

of remapping the bike routes. “I wouldn’t want to ride a bicycle. There is a lot of traffi c and crazy drivers taking chances when they shouldn’t.”

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